Two decades have passed since Peace Parks Foundation first embarked on one of its most elaborate projects: rewilding parks and reserves. This commendable work has continued unabated, seeing over 25 000 animals moved across southern Africa over the years. This large number belies the trickiness of the task. It is notoriously difficult to work with animals, especially so when the animals are wild. They would never have been in captivity before and many will have had little or no interaction with people. Often the translocation teams have only one chance to capture the animals. If something goes wrong, the animals get away with knowledge of humans and a new wariness, all of which makes it harder still to capture them the next time. If this happens, often a follow up capture cannot be attempted for several years.

With so many variables – the weather, the terrain, the animals’ behaviour and so on – things are bound to go wrong at times. After all, nature is not predictable. All we can do is hope to work with it. Sometimes, the whole operation can be called off at the last minute, even when teams are lined up in the bush ready for action. For example, if the winds get up then the helicopters are grounded. Or if the wind changes direction, the animals will catch the team’s scent and take off. Even the best made plans can be undone by the unexpected.

Even when everything seems to be going along swimmingly, nature can pull a stunt. When a herd of zebra was being translocated, a foal became separated from the herd during the capture process. In reuniting the baby zebra with its mother, it gave one of the field crew a bite, just as a toddler might. Not part of the plan, but luckily all ended well for animal and crew member.

In fact, every mistake means knowledge is gained which helps to create better successful future translocations.

Peace Parks would like to make a special thanks to all those who have been involved in translocations this year. This includes the wildlife veterinarians, the pilots, the ground teams, everyone at HQ, the institutions, governments, officials, partners, corporations and of course, the generous donors, without whom none of what you have seen would be possible.

Keep watching PeaceParks.TV in 2022 to witness even more incredible translocations.